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tv   Christian World News  TLN  March 12, 2013 9:00pm-9:30pm PDT

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>> today on christian world news, he's a husband and a father. and he's being kept in one of the world's worst prisons simply for sharing his faith. today the wife of pastor saeed abedini shares her story of love, trial, and faith. and in the philippines, a christian family is ambushed and killed. one local pastor says the tragedy is challenging the church to be a stronger witness for christ. plus, a television event thousands of years in the making.
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an inside look at the epic mini series "the bible." >> a husband and father suffers in an iranian prison while his family prays for his release. hello, everyone, i'm wendy griffith. george thomas is on assignment. it seems like a story from a movie. iranian pastor saeed abedini is sentenced to eight years in one of the worst prisons in iran. his only crime, spreading the gospel of jesus christ. but the story is all too real for his wife and family, who are suffering along with him and desperately fighting for his freedom. their love story began in iran. nagma, an american citizen since early childhood, believed god was leading her to return to her homeland in 2001 to minister to muslim women. that's where she first saw saeed abedini, the young
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preacher was leading worship at one of the underground house churches he helped form. what made you fall in love with him? >> his passion. i think as a young woman, i always prayed, i said, lord, i can't marry someone who is mediocre. i wantnt to marry someone who is passionate for you. but i had no idea how he would answer my prayer. i had no idea it would be so radical. >> wendy: not long afterwards, the two married in iran. their wedding drew hundreds of well-wishers, and aroused the suspicion of the iranian revolutionary guard. >> our union was a miracle because we were both muslim converts, and they allowed us to have a christian wedding. and bibles were passed out. >> wendy: it takes a special bride to be willing to share her big day. >> well, you imagine that day is going to be all about
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you, and it wasn't. it was just a big -- it was amazing. it is what we both would have wanted for a wedding. >> reporter: but nine years and two children later, 4-year-old jacob, and 6-year-old rebecca, nagma is now living her worst nightmare. last july, during one of saeed's routine trips to establish an orphanage, he was obtained and put in arrest. in an and in january, the so-called hanging judge sentenced him to eight years in evin prison. his crime, preaching the gospel. in these photos, you can see men hanging outside the prison, in an attempt to bring more terror to the prison inmates. >> the name really scared me. i had dreamed of the revolution, and people we knew and family members who
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were hanged in that prison. >> reporter: before he was sentenced, saeed could skype with his family, now they have no personal contact. only letters from family and friends. the latest telling him that saeed is being tortured in an effort to get him to renounce his faith. >> i said, they have no idea who they are dealing with. since he accepted christ and his life changed, he was very committed. it doesn't matter what beatings he goes through. it doesn't matter if they say we're going to kill you. >> wendy: as a wife, what has been the hardest part of this for you? >> the lord has given me grace to go to his presence and get my comfort. but as a mom, every time it is like a stab in my heart when i see them struggling and i can't do anything about it. my son is very -- his
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character has changed 100% since the arrest. he won't talk as much. he is very reserved. my daughter, she just cries a lot. what does this say? >> it says i miss you, dad. >> and these are your tears? >> yes. >> wendy: nagma admits at first she sunk into dispair. >> i was in extreme depression and anxiety and worried. i could see that where i was almost being broken. i would have had to check myself in. but the lord didn't let me break. i clung to him and i cried out to him, and i said, lord, in phillipians, you promised you will give peace beyond understanding. and he gave me that peace. so the scripture is true. i want people to know if they cling to him and believe in his scripture, and don't let him go, and hold on tight, and he is going to get you through whatever it is. >> wendy: in the meantime, the american center for law and justice is going full
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throttle with both a legal and media campaign. jordan seculo says publicity could be a lifesaver for saeed, as it was for yusef nardarkhani, sentenced to death for his christian faith, but late last year, thanks to a christian campaign, he was freed. what is the chance that pastor abedini will walk out of prison? >> the only chance is these people speaking out. chance-wise, surviving one day is not a given. you can be beaten to death by the guards. you can be beaten to death by a fellow inmate. if the story is talked about, people don't get beaten as badly. >> wendy: the good news, people are talking. nearly a half million people have signed the petition on the website. and christian musicians are also speaking out on his behalf. >> help us share his story. sign the petition at free
9:07 pm >> wendy: secretary of state kerry has said he would work on the problem, but he has made no statements since he was sworn in. nagma believes prayer will save her husband. do you believe you will see him again? >> i do. it is my flesh versus my spirit. my flesh says he is not going to survive that prison. but when i pray, he is a god of hope, and he tells me it is at his time he will release saeed. >> wendy: pastor abedini needs your prayers. his wife told me he is suffering from internal bleeding in his stomach area, due to the beatings and torture, and is very weak. if you would like to sign the petition, please go to our website, for a link. a new work, a fiction, takes
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readers inside iran. joel rosenberg's damascus countdown is about an islamic messiah determined to destroy israel. gary lane asked joel about his new book, as well as iran's real-life christians and the trials they face. >> what about the christians there, and what is happening to them? >> one of the things i wanted to do with the book is sort of highlight that there are muslims coming to faith in jesus christ, but under extraordinary circumstances. but it is not fictctn. it is real. and what pastor abedini's story tells us is that this is a very serious crackdown that the iranian regime is making, not just on christians generally, but they're trying to crack down primarily on the pastors, believing if they could crack this system of house churches, that they'll be able to rip up and destroy these networks and sort of crush christianity.
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but the lord is showing the people of iran that shi'a radical islam in its purest form is not the answer. it is creating the perfect storm of conditions for muslims to look elsewhere for hope, for truth, and many are coming to christ as a result. the lord never tells us to pray that people aren't persecuted, although i do pray that, but the main thing is to pray they have boldness and courage and strength and we come alongside them and help them and their widows and others as they go through it. >> one of the main characters in your book "damascus countdown," is the amadi, the 12th imam. who is that? >> the 12th imam is the shia version. jesus in matthew 24 that the false messiah will be coming -- >> do you know if he is alive today?
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>> i don't know if this person will emerge, but i think it is possible we'll see someone emerge in these next few months or years that claims to be, and is accepted to be, this shi'a messiah. >> and what will that mean for the middle east? >> chaos, carnage, bloodshed, more persecution, and yet the word god is sovereign. if he allows a false messiah to come, he will move his spirit to bring people into his kingdom, as he is doing already. >> damascus is almost in ruins, isaiah 17 says it will be in ruins. are we seeing a fulfillment of that prophecy today? >> it is early to say that, gary, but we're seeing the implosion of the syria as we know it. 90,000 people are dead, murdered in syria. a million refugees, and those are the ones counted. many more are on the run. >> and many are christians as well. what can we do for the christians?
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>> we need to start praying for them, that they would have strength and courage. we can't just pray for them. we need to provide encouragement. we need to provide food, clothing, medical surprise, anything we can do to strengthen our brothers and sisters so they can (a) take care of themselves and have light in that darkness. and we need to pray with satellite, tv, radio, and distribution of bibles, the jesus film, that the the gospel, the hope of christ, can be spread at a time when people are more willing to listen and have a need for it than they ever had in their lives. >> joel rosenberg, an amazing book, "damascus countdown." thank you. >> thank you. >> wendy: christians face tough choices with islamic rebels take over their villages. eventually a muslim group captured the christian village of makubia.
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many fled. some say they won't return until they see how the muslim commander treats minorities. he says he will treat everyone fairly, but like many rebels, he makes his decisions according to islamic law. there are reports of muslim rebels murdering christians and kidnapping them for ransom. a u.s. congressman says aid to egypt should be linked to that country's treatment of its christian. virginia's frank walsh just returned from the middle east. he met with coptic christian leaders who told him that the obama administration is giving support to the muslim brotherhood, without considering the persecution they have been suffering. wolf says one day there might not be any christians left in the middle east. up next, a pastor, his wife, and two daughters murdered in the philippines, but the tragedy is bringing new life to the church.
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>> wendy: welcome back.
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venezualan christians are considering their future after president hugo chavez succumbed to cancer this week. during his long fight with cancer, catholics and evangelicals held prayer vigils for the president. although relations between the government and the church were often strained under chavez, the head of the evangelical council expressed optimism about the future. >> we are expecting we can continue and that we can be involved in some way in the electoral process as citizens of the country. we need a transformation of our society. and we need to trust that the lord will change the society, and not just the political ideological system. >> wendy: olson and other evangelical leaders have called for unity and calm as a deeply polarrized electorate will decide who will lead venezuala after chavez. the senseless killing of a pastor and his family has stirred up a christian
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community in the southern philippines. they're more committed than ever to sharing the gospel in this predominantly muslim community. >> reporter: in the rural town of isulin, that is surrounded by rice fields, songs of worship echo as several christians pay their last respects to pastor ray debarbo and his family. pastor ray, his wife, and two daughters, aged 14 and eight, were heading home from a birthday party aboard a motorcycle when they were way laid by unidentify gunmen. this is the exact spot where the pastor, his wife, and two daughters were gunned down. according to neighbors, the suspects, who are muslims, are known in the area to be violent and hungry for power. >> translator: these criminals are protected by high-ranking government officials in our town. this is why we brought the matter to the national
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government. to ensure the speedy resolution of the case. >> reporter: a family member shares how pastor ray is a great loss to the community. >> he planned the churches along the tribes in the mountains. every sunday, he travelled three hours on his motorbike to teach the word of god in the areas there. it is hard for them to understand what happened. >> reporter: this pastor, who's identity who we will hide, and who's ministry is am muslims, says the deaths of the debarbo family seskserves as an eye-opener to the church, in her effort to reach out to muslims. >> there is still this big animosity between the church and the muslims. they need to change that. who else can help these people, except us, under jesus christ. the only antedote to our problem is jesus christ. and where is jesus? in a church, the people of
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god. to me, i think is a challenge to raise up and really win them to the lord jesus christ. >> reporter: amazingly, the eldest daughter, the 16-year-old eliza, who is the lone survivor, because she did not go to the party with them, is coping well with their loved ones. >> my father has never quit telling us how good god is. i am happy for my family because i know where they are, in heaven with the lord. i will be missing them so much, but i know god still has a purpose for my life. i will fulfill my dream to finish my studies, and i will do it for them. >> reporter: lucille tellusin, cbn news, phillipians. >> wendy: coming up, she was touched by an angel. now roma downey and her c2sband are putting the bie on tvtv.
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>> wendy: for nearly 10 years, actress roma downey
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starred on the tv series "touched by an angel" her husband, mark burnett, is a reality tv pioneer, behind "survivor," "the a apprentice," and "the voice." recently they unveiled what they are calling their most important project, a mini series on the bible. take a look. ♪ >> remember me by doing this. i'm going to the father, but i will always be with you. >> hollywood couple mark burnett and roa roma downey have joined forces with the history channel to create an epic mini series called "the bible." >> reporter: when you look at a project of this magnitude and this scope,
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how do you boil the bible down into 10 hours? how do you do that? >> it took us a couple of years, really. and we got the advice of many theologians, and figure out it should be a through-line narrative, god's love for all of us. genesis through revolution. >> from the moment adam and eve fell from grace, we have been a people wanting to get back in connection with god. and that was one of the themes that we felt we really wanted to see, through those old testament characters. we see each of them attempting connection and failing. attempting connection and failing. and so god so loved us that he sends jesus for us. and our new testament narrative begins with the birth of jesus, who comes
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and brings us home. and so that was the connective love story that we wanted to tell. we only had 10 hours. so we had to condense the stories. it ended up really it is more of an introduction to the bible. >> reporter: in tackling a production of this magnitude, great care was taken to make the finished product look and feel authentic. >> we went about three or four hours drive down the atlas mountains, to the edge of the sahara, and we chose this location because it allowed us to achieve this beautiful, biblical landscape. >> it replaces some of the epic kazbars, which looked like they belonged -- and probably do belong -- 2,000 years ago. >> moses. >> we want to make the bible
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come to life with fresh visual imagery for this generation. so we gathered to us the best in the business. we have the best cgi, an oscar-winning team who created the special effects for gladiator. >> and portuguese actor diogo morcaldo plays the role of jesus christ. >> reporter: when you were approached about doing this role as a performer, as an actor, what went through your mind? >> i think the first thought was, i can't do it. honestly. it's like, this is too much. >> you will all fall away. >> we're not just telling a story. we're trying to touch people's hearts. we're telling a story that people live by. i grew up knowing the
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bible. i grew up believing in jesus christ. so with the fact of my own faith and my own beliefs getting involved, it is like how can i do someone that i know so well? what should we do? should we go to the thing that people know about our just sharing your own experience? so i think i try to do it both, a little bit. >> reporter: in their years of successful work in hollywood, mark and roma say this project is one of the most powerful productions they have ever worked with. >> it is human, it is connective, it's beautiful. and through the whole thing there is this heartbeat of faith. it is a heartbeat of god's love. the project was made to glorify god. >> wendy: it looks great. the bible mini series airs sunday nights at 8 p.m. eastern on the history channel. it will run every sunday throughout march, with the finale arriving on easter,
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march 31st. and there is a special section on our website, and you can watch that by going to
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